My doctor and I decided that it was time to start tapering off of my prescription anti-depressant drugs. In the beginning, I thought I would have to take the pills forever. But in most cases, people struggling with depression only have to take the meds for a year or two. Click here to read my myth busting post about anti-depressants.
Since I began taking the anti-depressants, I have stopped a lot of bad habits and developed good habits (healthy coping skills) to deal with my anxiety and depression. I am ready to see if I can stay that way without the drugs.
I am still going to monitor my symptoms and take care of myself by going to counseling, eating nourishing foods, exercising to enhance my life, and other self-help practices. I don’t want to make the same mistakes and end up in the hospital again.
My new treatment plan includes:
Eat regular meals
Eat nourishing foods that I like and that make me feel good
Moderate exercise 3 days a week for 20 minutes if I can
Frequent activities and hobbies that I enjoy (and things that give me a sense of purpose)
Try to get eight hours of sleep a night
Limited stressful activities and commitments
Absolutely NO alcohol
These changes are not major for me. I am already doing everything I listed above, and I have been for some time now. All those things are ways that I take better care of myself. From experience, I know that those things help me feel better and keep the depression symptoms from coming back.
The only major change coming up is that I am not popping the little green and off-white pill at eight o’clock every morning any more.
Without the medication, I don’t think that I could have made all those healthy changes. But now it is time to see if I can still take care of myself while I am off the drugs. Should I not be able to function without the drugs and my symptoms return, then I will have to get back on the meds. And that is OK. I am going to rely on the things I have learned, my husband, my support system, and my counselor to help me monitor my progress and determine whether or not I am on the right path. If my symptoms return, then I will cross that bridge when it’s time.
How I was taking care of myself several years ago:Eating sporadically or only when I “had” to (meaning to keep myself from passing out)
Eating low-calorie, fat-free foods only
Excessive work-outs for 2-3 hours a day
Abuse of diuretics
Long hours at a high-stress job
Sacrificing sleep so I could exercise before work
5-6 cups of coffee a day
I don’t want to go back to the way I was. Should any of these bad habits return, I am going to see my doctor again. I know that those unhealthy habits will only lead me to depression, despair, and suicidal tendencies.
All things considered, I am optimistic. I think everything will turn out fine. I know that I am the same person now and I’ll be the same person when I am off the meds.
However, I am also not naïve. It is not all of a sudden going to be hearts, stars, and butterflies. I know that there will still be times of stress, suffering, and bad days. And that is OK.
So, if you notice my writing starting to take a downhill plunge, don’t be afraid to speak up. Just kidding. Most likely, if I start to relapse, I will stop writing altogether.
When I came home from the hospital last summer, I was advised to put together some information for easy access. Because I always go above and beyond, I created a pamphlet that anyone in the Tri-county area could use for a format. Click here to take a look.
I advise anyone struggling with depression and anxiety to make a similar document. Feel free to copy my format, if you like. I had mine taped to our refrigerator for months. Now it is taped to the inside of the desk cupboard; forever there if I need it.
I hope this is helpful information. I don’t want anyone to have to go through what I went through. But unfortunately (or fortunately), it does take hitting rock bottom before a change can occur.
Remember, God can bring a greater good out of every bad situation. He will never abandon you no matter how alone you feel.